Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Television: Prosperity

'Prosperity', the new RTE drama series, which, given its theme of urban poverty and despair, is bizzarely bookended by glitzy sponsor ads for a car manufacturer, started last night with a day in the life of an unmarried mother as she drifted from B&B to the Welfare to the chipper to her sister's and eventually to the canal to booze. In between these destinations, Stacey hangs around a shopping centre with her child, looking to recharge her mobile, striking up an unlikely friendship with a gormless security guard and waiting for her shit of a boyfried to call her. To say it is boring and repetitive and exhausting is probably some kind of praise for the filmakers because no doubt the intention here is to show the mind-numbing routine of a life excluded from 'our' national narrative of success and, naturally, prosperity. Amidst all the tarmacadam, concrete, hedge funds and financial controlling, what does 'real life' amount to in Ireland today? 'Prosperity', in the first episode, doesn't really answer that instead it offers a gallery of monosyllabic victims all of whose sentences seem to end in 'anyways' and 'is all' while at the same time failing to resist stock types like the buffoon in the shopping centre, who could have been Freddie in 'The Dead' in another life. They are making a point about the invisibility of these lives but if Abrahamson et al wanted it to be realistic, why add an occasional soundtrack intended to heighten the viewer's sympathy for Stacey's plight? Perhaps some loss of nerve.
Dramas like this often end up condescending their subjects. It is always other people who live 'lives of quiet desperation' and they rarely make mainstream television programmes. It is fundamentally an issue of class and it is why I wouldn't watch 'Adam and Paul' and found the most affecting scenes in 'Prosperity' those in which the characters joked about babies being ugly and talking dirty. The rest skirted too close to handwringing.

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3 Comments:

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6:01 p.m.  
Blogger Shane said...

I reccomend you give 'Adam and Paul' a look. Far less handwringing, far more humour... To say something like 'its fundamentally an issue of class and thats why I would never give A&P a look' means you're making assumptions that any representation of deprevation is discriminatory in some way.

Its a strange argument you're making against what is probably the most ambitious piece of television to come from RTE. I think it deserves some applause.

Though I think with more of the humour of A&P they wouldn't have evidently alienated so many people.

1:13 p.m.  
Blogger Dotsy's Complaint said...

Thanks for the comment, Shane.

Humour would have made it worse: 'jokes are epitaphs on the death of feeling' or the problem with comedy is that life isn't really that funny.

RTE are producing more dramas. That fact that doesn't exempt them from critique.

It was the progamme makers' lapse into an aesthetic of alienation that I didn't like. It didn't make me feel alienated.

9:58 p.m.  

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